Referring to marijuana as a drug is one of the remaining stigmas from an era of full-blown marijuana misunderstanding. Modern medicine and science are challenging preconceived philosophies of marijuana, as they prove its efficacy as a medicine and therapy. It may be that the word “drug” is as much responsible for marijuana’s continued prohibition as is the misinformation provided to the public throughout history.
The cannabis plant has been misunderstood as long as it has been growing. Early cultivators of the cannabis plant sought its durable hemp fibers for a variety of industrial purposes. However, as the popularity of growing cannabis for its THC containing flower buds caught on in the United States and around the world, critics who sought to control and even ban the plant emerged.
Early medicine manufacturers used extracts from the cannabis plant to make tonics that cured a variety of ailments. These tonics and early medicines were widely marketed, but a series of deaths and possible suicides in the U.S., around 1850, caused the government to force manufacturers to label the ingredients on their medicines. Specifically, they labeled products with undisclosed narcotics and substances as “poison”; some of these contained cannabis.
Until 1970, marijuana was used as a tool for explaining civil unrest and misfortune. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was passed in 1970, and for the first time marijuana was officially a drug—and schedule 1 no less. Now people could refer to marijuana as a drug in the same vein as heroin, ecstasy, and LSD, which have addictive and potentially lethal qualities. The War on Drugs ensued furthering solidifying public opinion that marijuana was a dangerous drug.
Fast forward to today’s, largely pro-legalization, climate and the fact still remains—marijuana is a drug. Marijuana is also considered by many to be a medicine—can it be both? If you ask the DEA, they would say it cannot be a medicine because it has no currently accepted medicinal treatment in the U.S. The government will not acknowledge the results of countless private studies that show marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for ailments such as cancer and Dravet syndrome.
But there are other recreational “drugs” that are used in/as government-approved medicines. In fact, there are other schedule 1 drugs that were previously prescribed medicines, for instance, Quaaludes. The point—if the government was wrong about Quaaludes and subsequently began to restrict them calling them recreational “drugs”; could the government’s view on marijuana be wrong causing a realization that it should be removed from the “drug list”? Hopefully.
Recreational use of marijuana is, just that. It doesn’t have to be “recreational marijuana drug use” as some would like to call it. Differentiating between the medical marijuana and the recreational marijuana should be the distinguishing factor when deciding to refer to marijuana as a drug. It would be fair to consider medicinal marijuana as a drug in the same sense that you do Advil or cold medicine.
THC a Drug?
THC is the chemical in marijuana that causes the drugged effect that has earned it its schedule 1 status. It occurs naturally in marijuana but has no proven addictive qualities or direct fatalities from human consumption. Unlike cigarettes that contain the highly addictive drug nicotine that is not listed as a schedule 1 drug. Our government has long allowed the sale of cigarettes while turning their back on the far less harmful “drug” marijuana.
Marijuana has many nicknames, and drug doesn’t have to be one of them. The two words are bound by current legislation, but education should lead to an understanding that marijuana is not a drug in the typical sense. The sooner the public can move past these associations, the sooner the government will.
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